DES MOINES, Iowa -- Authorities in central Iowa are warning the public of a website that plans meetings across the country, saying the website is promoting two meetings in Iowa that could be a “ruse for rape.”
A website called Return of Kings is promoting an International Meetup Date on Feb. 6, and police say the meeting could be a “potential lure to get young women and girls to come to the various listed ‘meet up’ sites across the US and locations around the world. There is concern that this may be a ruse to commit rape.”
But Wednesday night, after various media reports, the group canceled all its meetings.
"I can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend on February 6, especially since most of the meetups can not be made private in time. While I can’t stop men who want to continue meeting in private groups, there will be no official Return Of Kings meetups. The listing page has been scrubbed of all locations. I apologize to all the supporters who are let down by my decision," wrote Daryush Valizadeh, the "pro-rape" blogger who started the website.
Valizadeh is known for his controversial books that advise men on the best methods to have sex with women and advocates that rape be made legal inside a private home.
When the meetings were still on, hosts were asked to wait at meeting points all around the world Saturday at 8 p.m. for men who are interested in attending. The men were instructed to ask the question, “Do you know where I can find a pet shop?” Members who are part of the group will then respond, “Yes it’s right here.”
Valizadeh calls the meetup a “tribal meeting” only for men that will be held two locations, one in Des Moines and one in Cedar Rapids, police say.
“His comments that he's made in the past are obviously disturbing and disgusting. When you start advocating violence about anyone, you're definitely going to get our attention, and it's something that we're going to continue to monitor,” said Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek.
Police say this is the first time the group has tried to organize in Des Moines.
The website invites men to meet at the Veterans Hospital in Des Moines later this week before heading to another location. There is some concern that they will attempt to lure women or girls. Des Moines police said the department and the VA police department are aware.
“We're encouraging people not to go for the obvious safety reasons. [Valizadeh] definitely advocates violence against women and that's not something we'd want anyone to be around,” said Parizek.
While this is the first time this type of meeting is on Des Moines Police's radar, it is on a local advocacy group's radar.
“A lot of the opinions expressed on their blogs and their websites are very counter to what we advocate for,” explained Kerri True-Funk, associate director of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
The mission of the Iowa CASA is to promote a society free from sexual violence. True-Funk said these types of groups can make women feel unsafe, unheard, unbelieved.
“Unfortunately, there are members of the community that think that these kinds of beliefs and actions are OK,” she said.
Police don’t know if the meeting will actually take place, but they are taking the possibility seriously.
If you have any concerns about this information or notice any suspicious activity in your area, you are asked to contact local authorities.
CASA operates an online chat for survivors and their loved ones. For more information, visit www.iowaarch.org.